Special night last week at church. I just didn’t understand before I arrived, how special it was.
Over the past year, our church leadership has been committed to the joyous task of coming together to talk and pray about far-reaching things. No, we don’t spend time on facilities and Bible school curriculum and the like. Instead, we poke around and explore for transformational issues that impact our congregation, our work as shepherds of God’s flock here, and the larger kingdom of God.
In the past, I’ve taken part in discussions where we, the participants, believed that we knew the answers to everything. The Christian brothers and sisters I now sit with believe that we’re not even certain that we’ve discovered all of the questions.
So, this summer, we picked a few Thursday nights. The plan is to come together for a meal and then immerse ourselves in conversation for a few hours. Although there is some disagreement regarding some things, I am always encouraged and refreshed. And, to be totally open, I enjoy the meal before the talk.
Last week, we were informed that the “children” of the church would be serving our dinner. The exact age group and identity of the children were not revealed and I was slightly apprehensive. Visions of hot dogs and macaroni and cheese kept swelling up. Yet, I knew that regardless of the fare, I would be blessed. Little did I know . . .
As I walked in to the area where we were to be served, I was greeted by the sight of a dozen or more 4th and 5th graders scurrying around on last minute errands. The place was decorated and the early items on the serving table indicated that something in the mexican food genre was on the menu.
These words caught me off guard, “Grampa, you’re not supposed to be here yet.” As I glanced down to see the shining face of my only granddaughter, Landrye, she continued, “Look away! You’re supposed to be surprised!”
So I looked away and shuffled off to another part of the room. Shortly thereafter, the appointed time arrived and Landrye made her way back over to officially greet me and offer me some lemonade. As I proudly took the cup she offered, she continued to stand and stare upward.
“Yes, ma’am?” I said.
“Aren’t you going to offer me any?” she asked. As I moved toward the table to get her a cup, she tugged on my shirt, “No, I just want a drink from yours.”
So we communed, she and I. And as we were refreshed by the pink liquid, she explained that she and one of her friends wanted to sit with me for the meal. That being said, she escorted me to a table of her choosing. Moments later, Kelci, Chloe, Scotlyn, and Elizabeth came by to stake a claim to their seats. My table was full!
Later when I looked around the room, I noticed that there was more of a balance in the adults to children ratio. For just a moment, pride captured me as I thought I must be pretty cool — all of these fine young ladies wanted to sit with me! And then, as I talked with them and listened to them, I realized the obvious. They were sitting together, the five of them. I was the mandatory adult. My ticket to the venue was Landrye, the one who thought it was important that I be included.
They were there because of a special relationship I had with one of them, my granddaughter, and the relationships each girl shared with others at the table. And because of that unique bond among them, an evening of fun and laughter and true relationship emerged for me.
You see, often the path to relationship is not a direct one. Instead, fondness and trust is built because of a mutual love and affection — sometimes a single tie to another.
We talked about holy living in the leadership meeting later that night. I understood more deeply how important it is to be drawn into a fellowship where relationship is important. Community is at the heart of holy living.